We feasted in the months of November and December. We celebrated. Now, in the new year, we set our face to fasting. I happen to relish this sacred rhythm, and I have learned over the years that no matter what I choose to sacrifice during this time, what I gain is a far greater treasure. Our pastor said today that one definition of “fasting” is, “giving up something good to obtain something better.”
I know that most people make “New Year’s Resolutions.” They resolve to do things differently, set different priorities. And I’m all for recalibrating. It’s a good thing to take stock, reevaluate, set new goals. Here’s the thing: no matter where you are or when you are, there you are. In other words, changing your situation doesn’t usually change your values. Changing your perspective is crucial to affecting change on the inside. For me, fasting changes my perspective because it changes my focus.
It starts with me saying, “You, Lord, are more valuable to me than the earthly pleasures you have provided me. I have enjoyed them, and most likely will enjoy them again. But for now, your face is what I seek. I want to see you, to hear your voice, and to know your presence. All the change I need, all the changes I may need to make to move forward from here are only going to be found in your presence, in the power and perfection of your love for me. Have your way in me. Amen.”
So, when I abstain, for a period of time, from television or sugar or even food altogether, and I do so for the purpose of seeking Him, I am “fasting.” When my normal daily rhythm is interrupted by any form of fasting, I have an opportunity to express my desire for and my devotion to the Lord, my God. I have the privilege of being available to Him, learning of Him, receiving from Him.
While fasting seems to stretch out time and make room for more time in prayer, meditation and contemplation, it also seems to initially make me feel hollow. I become aware of how much time and energy I spend on selfish desires. The very gifts of God that were meant for my pleasure have become idols that have captured me, and I am empty unless the Lord Himself fills me. It is in a time of fasting that I recalibrate, refocus, receive forgiveness and cleansing. Ultimately, He fills the hollow places His word and His nature have identified, and I experience Him more intimately. As long as I am on planet earth, I know I will require this rhythm of feasting and fasting.
What does your experience of fasting look like? Take some time this week to list any gifts that have become more important to you than the Giver. Be willing to shift your focus from the “thing” to the Creator, to bow your head in gratitude and open your heart in praise.
Until next week, praise Him for His faithful, unchanging, all powerful love, and for His presence into which we come solely by the blood of the Lamb.